Russia, N Korea agree to release detained ship, says diplomat

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Moscow, Feb 26 (UNI) Russia's General Consul in Chongjin, Valery Valkovich, has secured a speedy release of a Russian ship that was detained in the Sea of Japan for allegedly violating the North Korean border.

''During talks between the Russian General Consul in Chongjin and North Korean border guard authorities in the port of Kimch'aek, where the detained ship is anchored, the sides agreed on a speedy release of the vessel,'' an anonymous diplomat from the Russian General Consulate told RIA Novosti on the phone.

''As soon as the central authorities in Pyongyang adopt the final decision, the ship will be released,'' he said.

The Russian Lidiya Demesh vessel was carrying a batch of cars from the Japanese port of Hamata to Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, when a North Korean border guard vessel stopped it near Cape Musudan, three to five miles from North Korea's shores on Saturday morning.

The diplomat said 25 crewmembers aboard the ship were safe and sound. Earlier, the North Korean authorities had barred a top Russian diplomat from meeting with the crew of the ship.

In a similar incident, a Russian ship Ternei had been detained by the North Korean Coast Guard Service near Cape Musudan in December 2005. The ship was brought to the port of Kimch'aek and released after two weeks following diplomatic negotiations.

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